Square Enix Responds to "Racist" Deus Ex Character

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I think before anyone can really qualify or make statements about whether or not anything listed here is racist we need to restate what racism actually means.

rac·ism

noun/ˈrāˌsizəm/
The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3A+racism&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&hs=iX2&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=racism&tbs=dfn:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=aWhgToC7CMi4tweyzrQS&ved=0CCMQkQ4&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=fe4d51c11f0a28fa&biw=1024&bih=558

Carry on.

First thing first Im black and Ive played thru Deus Ex. I remember seeing Letitia and talking to her. I was surprised by the accent of her voice but wasnt offended. Now if she said she was a watermelon eating, Soulja Boy listening, cotton picking black then yes I would feel a little. I find it funny that in society (American as far as I know)the only time somebody is considered racist is if they are white and "discriminate or stereotype" another ethnicity. Prime example, ethnic comedians (almost all of them) have or will make a joke about white people or anybody else that in normal conversation would be considered racist. Yet if a white person was to say something like that (exception of Daniel Tosh I think)they would be considered racist.

Onyx Oblivion:
Hey.

The Deus Ex vocal racism is funny as hell to me. Breaks my immersion a bit. But makes me laugh.

I, personally, didn't feel that anyone should be offended, then again...I'm a white male.

Besides, remember the accents from DE1?

Yeah...

What a shame!

No, I... I just do not uderstand. Black zombies are offensive? WTF, then white or asian zombies are offensive too, no? Stereotypic black janitor is offensive? Everdrunk aggressive stereotypic russians are no less offensive! People, a simple activation of brain indicates: today offensive is a fear to be offensive, nothing more! There are adequate moral basics, and some things should not be tolerated due to harmful effect, but RACIAL problem must be solved NOT by "defending" someone with removing everythibg that may be "offensive" for him! Racial question is solved by raising tolerant generation, which honor each others culture, religion etc.

Treblaine:
Sorry, didn't mean to put words in your mouth, I was just being a bit speculative for emphasis.

I hear what you are saying, but do you mean that it's OK to have these accents only if you are making a commentary specifically on racism?

Or are you saying these accents only existed in 1930's Georgia? Because many will testify that residents of Detroit even today speak with such inflections. It's not racist to hear such accents either in real life nor in fiction... PEOPLE ACTUALLY SPEAK THIS WAY!

If a work of fiction is all the similarity there is, I say that is similarity enough.

And again, you're putting words in my mouth. What I am saying is that there is a world of difference between a work of fiction set eighty years in the past in the real world American South and one set twenty years in the future in a fictional American North, and using one to make a point about the other is disingenous.

Also, I defy you to find anyone who actually speaks that way. I've found people who sound a little bit like that, but no actual, real person who talks like Letitia does. Maybe I'm wrong in this, and I just need to look harder, but I don't think that I am.

"Letitia talks about people losing jobs and homes, going on to say that the city feels likes its going to explode. If things were different, if Letitia was at all recognizably human, you could read those chunks of text as either a reference to the infamous 1967 Detroit Riots or the current discomfort created by the global economic downturn. The potential metaphorical depth that DXHR could hold in that moment gets squandered by the character delivering it."

No need to single out those two examples of socioeconomic problems and unrest. It's reflective of a phenomenon that has been ever present throughout the world since the industrial revolution. The intellectual depth can only be squandered by the person interpreting it.

ultimateownage:
It's not like they're all going around eating chicken and watermelon.

Interesting note, that stereotype (and many others) actually originated from misinformation.

DragonLord Seth:
What year is this again? 2011? For a second I thought it was 2000, with people bitching about racism.
50 bucks says the critic was black.

You are not really helping.
OT: I first saw the video and it did seem kind of strong at first but sounds way better as she goes along. Besides, this isn't the only black character in the game, so this is the only one that really catches that stereotype.

Yeah...I'm echoing the sentiment that it isn't racist. There are many people who speak that way. If you think this is racist, then you haven't been out much. Mind you, I've spent a much larger than average time around low-income communities and the homeless. It was pretty much daily during college, when I was volunteering in almost every way I could.

Same person who criticised Resi 5's zombies... this person should shut up.

Although that voice actor/actress (I can't tell if its male or female at times) is absolutely insane. What person talks like that?!?

If you listen to the clip you'll notice that her accent is much less pronounced in the middle of the dialogue than at the beginning and very end. To me this comes across as someone who is intentionally magnifying their accent to have a little fun with the person they are speaking with.

The same way as I've done, as I'm from Maine, when speaking to someone and I play up a Downeast accent, that is much exaggerated from my normal accent.

Carlston:

When is the last time a GERMAN was in a name and NOT a nazi? Hmmmm?

Gunther Hermann in Deus Ex :P

I'm just going to leave this here:

I actually cringed watching the woman in that video. The sad thing is that Square isn't the one who should be apologising. They're not the ones who put her in the game. Eidos Montreal needs to man up and apologise themselves for putting in such an offensive character.

Deimateos:
given that literally every other black person in the game speaks normally (NPC and Main quest), I fail to see it as racist.

Normally? What's normal?

You mean speaking like a BBC newsreader? What is "normal english"?

For.I.Am.Mad:
The game has much bigger problems than that. Racism in a videogame is par for the course, anyway.

The industry better watch it though, you're little jabs at African Americans is gonna bite you in the ass one day. And the bigots on the game sites can't keep sweeping it under the rug.

Yeah, every character in games should be gray colored individuals of indiscriminate gender, who talk in computer-y robot voices.

I want you, in depth to explain to me how it's racist. She isn't the only black character to appear in the game. Is it suddenly not racist if she's Asian or white? God forbid we have a homeless person speak in uneducated English!

All the prostitutes sound pretty ridiculous, but some of them aren't black, so I guess that makes it not racist.

am i racist for knowing someone who speaks like that? seriously, lately all ive been hearing is "this guy is racist because of some reason" and "this character is racist". dear world, loosen up. i dont get offended when people say that i ride a kangaroo to the market to buy myself a knife.

Typical double standard as usual. If it was a Caucasian character that was say, wearing a trucker's cap , a Nascar half t-shirt with his beer gut exposed, missing teeth, chewing tobacco, and spoke in southern twang that even Larry the Cable Guy would have trouble understanding... then no one would have a problem with it. They'd simply laugh at the White stereo type. Because that's just socially acceptable when really it's just as racist to depict a white person like that.

And for the record I'm east indian myself and I could care less if they had someone like Apu from the Simpsons in this game. Cause I'd find it humorous. Bottom line I have no problem with this. And people often forget that racism is a two way street.

Onyx Oblivion:
Hey.

The Deus Ex vocal racism is funny as hell to me. Breaks my immersion a bit. But makes me laugh.

I, personally, didn't feel that anyone should be offended, then again...I'm a white male.

Besides, remember the accents from DE1?

Yeah...

IN DA FRESH is much worse than WEELLLL SHEEEEIITT

I'm a bit surprised by the response.

To me, Leticia's speech and demeanor seemed much more consistent with mental illness as heard through the filter of an admittedly exaggerated accent.

A better explanation is the game writers tried for "Crazy homeless person" and failed because stupid Canadians are crappy ass mooks at video game development.

Also, please keep in mind that African American Studies professors tend to be a bit prickly about perceived race issues. But that's fair reaction, I guess, since America hates black people.

Haters will always find something to hate no matter what just ignore the silly little idiot.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, however this guy simply happens to be dead wrong. I'm kind of surprised he got enough attention to be taken fairly seriously within the gaming media.

This is not an unrealistic depiction of a black character, given that there are lots, and lots of people just like that among the lower classes. It's no more offensive than various "white trash" stereotypes that are all through the media. When people complain about the portrayal of lower class minorities, whether they are black or hispanic or whatever, they tend to forget that the same thing is done to the so called "untouchable" majority, and just as frequently. Killer rednecks and hillbillies are stock villains.

To be honest I'd go so far as to say that any real predjudice we see here is along political geographic lines. Generally speaking in the US we have a divide of the coasts vs. the areas towards the middle and south of the country. In general people from the south and middle of the country, the so called "flyover states" are treated as being pathetic morons irregardless of their race, and following real life political divisions tend to be more or less right wing, where the people from the coasts are smarter and of course lean to the left wing. The exceptions you find from those areas full of morons also tend to be budding liberals "born in the wrong place" so to speak. This is probably because most media is created on the coasts, with a lot of TV being made in New York City (East Coast) and movies coming from the West Coast, video games seem to generally follow this pattern though like with everything there are exceptions.

In general when is the last time you've seen a right wing member of "southern gentry" who wasn't some kind of moron or a bad guy almost as bad as the stereotypical redneck except for the trappings of wealth? They exist, but you aren't going to find many of them.

At any rate on the subject of "Deus Ex" this is fine, and really I don't consider this to be a remotely offensive stereotype of a lower class black person. To be honest if she was acting "in your face, gangsta" complete with the whole "I am proud to be uneducated and ignorant, Black Powah! Down with da Man!" fashion nobody would comment, and probably actually have that viewed in a positive light, when in reality I think that's more racist and demeaning than what we see here, where the character was pretty much portrayed as a fairly typical person fallen on fairly hard times. A bad lady/trash lady is not exactly going to be representing the best humanity has to offer no matter what their ethnicity and area of origin is.

It's fucking stupid don't get me wrong, but square aren't racist, I think at least, just really really really REALLY REALLY REALLY

REALLY REALLY REALLY

REALLY REALLY REALLY THICK.

.

Everyone who says this is racist is racist him/herself.

and cockney English totally isn't racist

You're kidding me. I encounter people every day with thicker accents than that. To be honest, when I first move down here to the south east I couldn't understand what the hell they were saying, but after a while i grew an ear for it.

Ian Caronia:
She calls him "Capt" because he was the leader of a SWAT team and a cop before.
She says nothing racist the entire time, not about black or white people.
She is poor, so she digs in the trash. I come from a family who took me with them for bottle collecting when I was young back before we had a home.

Evan Narcisse, you have offended me more than any stereotype from the 50s ever could. How DARE you tell me my background and my past friends (who spoke much like this NPC does) are "racial stereotypes"? Who do you think you are saying people who act like this NPC are living stereotypes?
By saying this character is a sign of racism, that's EXACTLY what you're doing. You're saying those who act like her are stereotypes. THAT is racism. I am NOT a stereotype, and neither are the guys I used to hang out with!

You've grossly offended me to the point where I am going to email this to you. Or to Time's Techland blog. Likely both if possible.

You confused bad voice acting with racism, and made remarks that imply anyone who is stricken with poverty to have to dig through trash or ask for hand-outs, as well as anyone who speaks with a certain slang, is a walking stereotype. I demand an apology.

Sincerely, Ian Caronia.

...And I will email that to this person ASAP. Looking for an address to do so now.

EDIT: Oh, I get it now. You can't contact the blog unless you subscribe. That's very shrewd of them. Post rediculous content that gets people mad enough to subscribe just to confront you. It's actually a diabolical business practice. Too bad there are other communication outlets I can work through to show this guy how much he offended me.

Ian I would love for you to do this. I plan on writing myself but I believe your personal experience pretty much stomps anything I could come up with.

As a former TIME subscriber I have a couple of contact methods you can use to reach the magazine itself, though they may not be exactly what you want since you can't reach the blog directly, but perhaps someone can shoot your letter to a place that will matter. I can only caution you again that these won't allow you to contact the blog directly.

E-mails:
[email protected]
For instance, or for traditional paper mail to:
TIME Magazine Letters, Time and Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020. Letters should include full name, telephone number and adress and may be edited for purposes of clarity and space.

Is this a stereotype? Maybe. Is it racist? No. No more so than Coach or Rochelle in Left 4 Dead 2, and those guys are stereotypes to the max.

Atary77:
Typical double standard as usual. If it was a Caucasian character that was say, wearing a trucker's cap , a Nascar half t-shirt with his beer gut exposed, missing teeth, chewing tobacco, and spoke in southern twang that even Larry the Cable Guy would have trouble understanding... then no one would have a problem with it. They'd simply laugh at the White stereo type. Because that's just socially acceptable when really it's just as racist to depict a white person like that.

And for the record I'm east indian myself and I could care less if they had someone like Apu from the Simpsons in this game. Cause I'd find it humorous. Bottom line I have no problem with this. And people often forget that racism is a two way street.

Isn't it odd how people are so eager to point out racism, even when none exists?

RollForInitiative:
Honestly, she struck me as a pretty laughably racist stereotype when I ran into her. I was kind of surprised that they'd left her in. Am I offended? No, just surprised.

So you can only talk in a deep southern accent if you white or else it's a stereotype? Now that sounds a bit racist to me. I mean c'mon if this was a white bum who would care? I'll admit it was a strange character to include, but really if you've left your house and entered the Bible belt, it wouldn't be long before you found lots of people who have this accent, they might not even be white. Is Rep. Clay Davis from The Wire a racist portrayal of black people because he talks in a southern accent not unlike this and is a grifter? No, we consider him to just be part of the greatest show ever on TV. So I'm afraid it isn't really even a racial stereotype, it's just a reality.

Greg Tito:

Letitia is certainly an easy way to write a character - and I agree that her dialogue and voice-acting are inferior - but to object so vehemently to her portrayal would mean you'd have to object to Mario's Italian characteristics and the Asian stereotypes in Cooking with Mama.

I think that these two examples you've mentioned are so harmless because of the fact that they're both caricatures. If Mario were a completely fleshed out character, his nonsensical faux-Italian would likely be offensive as would Cooking Mama's trouble with L/R distinction. Furthermore, it's the fact that seems to be the go-to depiction of blacks -- even in the future.

Personally, I don't find it offensive, but I do find it short-sighted and predictable. More eyeroll than ire.

That's...just...stupid.
People should stop acknowledging whenever a pretty weak stereotype appears, and calling it racist.
IT IS NOT RACIST, It's just a stereotype long proved the be about as laughable as any other stereotype. (meaning they are not true)
While stereotypes exist in society and cultures, calling THAT racist is pretty backwards, we should definetly stop giving it attention because it's truly meant to do no harm, and we just keep segregating and givng a stereotypical allegedly racist character much importance. We shouldn't.

There are lots of people, of all races, in DE:HR that don't talk like that. It would only be really offensive if every black person you met spoke like that and was homeless.

So...essentially...every ethnic minority character has to be the pinnacle of virtue, otherwise they're racist? Somehow, that stance seems very inaccurate. So it's a black character who lives on the streets. Are you trying to tell me that real black people are not homeless? That there is not a single African-American living in some Chicago alley?

Hah. Reminds me of a conversation I had about Grand Theft Auto IV with my fellow support workers. An Eastern European migrant is forced to turn to crime to avoid poverty in his newfound 'promised land'? How stereotypical.

Except we are support workers for homeless Eastern European migrants.

Some people in the real world just fit stereotypes, while some don't. Having one but not the other in this game would have felt more fabricated. Letitia gets singled out because she kinda reminds us of the American south's past and that whole situation, or of Transformers 2, which understandably makes people touchy - but this game has a healthy mix of subtle "real people" and loud stereotypes that score points for verisimilitude. Gunther and Anna Nevarre from DX1 were sterotypes. Zeke Sanders is a Latin-American stereotype. Bill Taggart is a white stereotype.

Letitia isn't "saying something" about black people, she's just saying something about Letitia.

The characters offensive because it was a purposeful jab at black people. There's no way that Eidos Montreal didn't know that that might piss off some people.

So they put the character in, knowing full well what will happen, and then they do what everybody does. DENY DENY DENY. It's typical neurotic bullshit that people have been trying to get away with since the 1860's. It's like a game to some people.

And this proves that race is THE number 1 issue plaguing the US and North America in general. The bigots will not win.

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